Reading children’s storybooks is one of my [OMG!!] absolutely personal favorite activities, so it’s only fitting that I dedicate this blog to the BEST ACTIVITY–READING ALOUD!
Before I get into some of what I’ve learned about reading children storybooks I would like to share how this passion for reading stories developed.
While I was in the Early Childhood Education Program at Sheridan College one of my professors Cathy Coulthard said “Anytime is a great time for a story!”, this resonated with me ever since, it was such a powerful statement one that at the moment didn’t mean much to me but has become one the truest parts of who I am as a mother, educator and instructor.
Around the age of 3 months I started reading aloud to my daughter Sophia (now 7 years old). I can confidently say that for the past 6 years of Sophia’s life she has had a book read each night (give or take a couple late nights). I think that for any parent who wants to cultivate a love of reading it has to become a “lifestyle choice.”
How it all started…
I started off by buying a low shelve for her to easily access books independently, I researched best titles for babies, toddlers and preschoolers (the librarians can help with this if your not sure where to begin). I placed all the books so she could see the covers. Use a front-facing book rack or stand some books up on a table or shelf. Setting out many books for children to choose from can be overwhelming for young children, so limit the number of books, surprise children with books by placing them around the house or incorporate them into different areas of the classroom or your home (I would bring some along for car rides.)
Plan a book area that is cozy and inviting, away from distractions and busy traffic flow at home. Place soft items, so children can feel a sense of security and so they can lean and sit on — pillows, blankets, or cushions — and a bean bag chair, love seat, small mattress, and/ or rocking chair. Make the area cozy!
I also made it a point to read to her during down times, or anytime (getting ready for naps, sitting around at the doctors office, at home, riding in the car)–I literally started off taking books everywhere. As she grew the interests in different stories also changed, the stories and how she understood them began to evolve. –Reading was simply for pleasure. After years of reading stories she now independently looks for books to read.
Tips for Reading Aloud
“The Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease, I have the pleasure of sharing chapter 4 with you which is titled “The Do’s and Don’ts of Read-Alouds”
- Begin reading to children as soon as possible. The younger you start them, the easier it is.
- Choose books for infants and toddlers that include rhymes, songs, and repetition to stimulate language and listening.
- Read as often as you and the child have time for.
- Start with pictures books with only a few words on the page then gradually move on to books with more and more text and fewer pictures.
- Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book and introduce the author and illustrator, no matter how many times you have read the book.
- The first time you read the book, discuss the illustrations on the cover of the book and ask the child(ren) what they think the book will be about.
- Occasionally, read above children’s intellectual levels and challenge their minds.
- Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their minds and bodies to the story.
- Mood is an important factor in listening. The authoritative, “Now stop that and settle down! Sit up straight! Pay attention!” doesn’t create a receptive atmosphere.
- When reading a picture book, make sure the children can easily see the pictures.
- Remember, reading aloud comes naturally to very few people. To do it successfully and with ease, you must practice.
- The most common mistake in reading aloud is reading too fast. Read slowly enough for the child to build mental pictures of what he just heard you read.
- Slow down enough for the children to see the pictures without feeling hurried. Reading quickly allows no time for the reader to use vocal expression.
- Preview the book before reading it aloud to your children. This will allow you to know ahead of time if there is any part of the book you want to shorten, eliminate, or elaborate on.